Title: It's the Pilot Part 11/18 Author: Truth Archive: The usual places. AU - Wherein the Gundam pilots have known each other for a little while, but the war is still stalled back before the pilots return to space. Meanwhile, the five mad scientists have had second thoughts about some of the pilots. Probably OC as well, but I did my best. First person stream of consciousness/POV. Rated PG-13 at least. Warning: None this time. Disclaimer: Gundam Wing belongs to somebody else, sadly. Feedback, comments and criticisms cheerfully accepted at firstname.lastname@example.org ************************ Quatre always gets his way, in the end. Even Yuy and Chang will eventually give in, if only to keep him from looking at them like that. He does a very good imitation of an abused puppy. I spent a great deal of time at one of the larger Alliance bases while the others searched for Maxwell. I spent almost all of my time there once Chang also went missing. There was a lot going on. The Alliance was trying to stop the war while still retaining power. That is, they wanted the colonies to accept a list of mostly worthless gestures in return for knuckling under. There is really no practical way for them to maintain peace and their stranglehold at the same time. The abuses of power were too many and they have gone on for too long. Some things can never be forgotten. You may want to let go of the pain and move on, but the memory lingers. Their talk of peace sounds beautiful and grand, but they are building this grand structure on a foundation of broken promises, tyranny and betrayal. It will not stand. But still, the Alliance leaders struggle for peace with the colonies. It's not working. True, no one has tried to send us on any missions of late. Everyone is waiting to see if or when, the negotiations will fail. Well, almost everyone. OZ is up to something. Everywhere I went, every file I read, every soldier that I talked to.... Something was very wrong. But I could not discover what it was. So I arranged to be transferred to OZ headquarters. The answers were there. I just had to find them. Then I took leave and went back to the safe house to pick up my things. I'm glad that I did. I'm also greatful that Quatre asked me to stay for dinner, because the child that Maxwell warned us about showed up while I was there. I'm not going to dignify him with the title of 'pilot'. A Gundam pilot is someone who has given themselves to a mission, to an ideal. We fight for our people, our colonies. We fight for a future and we fight for others. Each of us has given up many things to be where we are - or had them taken away. This child seemed to think it was some strange game by which accumulating 'glory' in battle determined a winner. It's not a game, it's an acceptance. We have each already chosen to die. Do you think that sounds horrible? Look at it a bit more logically. Of the five of us, only two have outside ties. Of those two, one would give his life in a heartbeat if he thought good would come of it. The other has already given himself up for dead. He didn't strike you as the obsessive type? He's always been more driven than the rest of us. Look a little harder. Chang has an actual death wish. True, it's not as noticeable or as strong as it used to be, but I catch myself thinking that he's only living for his goal. Once he reaches that goal, he will no longer have any reason to live. Looking at the situation from another angle, this whole problem with Maxwell might actually do him some good. Back to the point. We chose to do this, to come to Earth to fight and to die. When you are in control of a Gundam, no one can force you to do anything that you don't want to. Oh, they can try, and with proper programming, they might succeed. But we choose whether or not to accept the missions. We choose whether or not to follow the set parameters. We choose whether or not to die. Yes, we obey orders. But in the end, it is because we decide to - because we want to. The odds against our surviving this conflict are astronomically high, even now that it looks like there might actually be peace. Before? To accept this task, to become the pilot of a Gundam, was to accept the fact that you would die. We may not talk about it, but we all know it. But we've changed, too. We're not children. Some of us never were and that sets us apart. Adults can't accept us. The concept of a child that commits cold-blooded murder, no matter the cause, upsets them. We can't really relate to people our own physical age, either. We all wear masks; the jester, the lone wolf, the soldier, the nameless one and the guide. The five of us are alone. But we have each other. We each have four other people who can understand, at least a little, who and what we are. Four other people who can accept the blood and the death and the loss. Four other people who can see, at least a little, behind those masks. Four other people that we can trust, unconditionally. And our mission goes on. I am still ready to die. But I no longer look forward to it. When people ask me, I still say that I don't have a name. But it's not true. They call me Trowa, and they have _made_ it my name. A name that I am pleased to answer to, because they care. They care about the mission, they care about each other and they care about me. It's an interesting feeling, and not one I'm familiar with. We are who we are and no one else could hope to do the things that we do every single day. Each of us compliments some part of the others, and we make up one whole between us. We are not expendable. We are not replaceable. Maxwell is Maxwell, and no one else could hope to be Shinigami. Especially not this child. The thought revolts me. We'll let Maxwell deal with him. If we ever manage to pry him off of Deathscythe, that is. They did a beautiful job of rebuilding it. Which makes me wonder. If they actually _made_ a new Gundam for Quatre (and presumably the rest of us), why rebuild Deathscythe? And why try to replace both Maxwell and Chang? If they were to replace _two_, I would have thought it would be Maxwell and Quatre or Chang and Yuy. Or Yuy and me. But to replace a pair that are so dramatically opposite? Where is the logic in that? As I waited for my transfer to go through, I looked for a place to conceal Heavyarms. I didn't want to leave it with the circus. Not only could it have been discovered, its mere presence could bring danger down on them. I could easily have left it with Rashid, but it seemed foolish to keep the three remaining Gundams in the same spot. That way if one were found, all three would be lost. I eventually found the perfect place, a gigantic waterfall which fell down into a deep, rock walled pool. The pool extended under the waterfall a way, and Heavyarms would be protected from detection on all sides. Someone would have to do as I did, sliding under the waterfall itself, in order to find it. That's how I found Shenlong. It wasn't until I was actually figuring out how deep the pool was in order to make sure that Heavyarms would fit, that I realized something was already down there. Chang can be a bit too clever for his own good, I think. I had to find somewhere else to conceal my Gundam. It eventually ended up with Rashid and the 'Fez Patrol'. Maxwell's speech patterns can be contagious. Once I reached OZ headquarters, I discovered several unpleasant and alarming things. The first was that, but for Maxwell's disappearance, we might have succeeded in escalating the war and providing the spark for a bloody military takeover of the Earth by OZ. Some people never clean out their mail caches. A stupid thing to do, even if you do have a supposedly 'secure' terminal. If that mission had not been scrapped due to Deathscythe being unavailable.... The consequences would have shaken the entire human race. The second thing I discovered was that someone was attempting to set us up. I realize that the first findings made that pretty obvious, but the plans for using us against the Alliance and against the colonies themselves were continuing. This was borne out by the fact that someone was using Relena's ability to track Yuy anywhere in the world in order to keep tabs on us. Yuy is going to have to do something fairly permanent about that girl if she will not reveal how she is tracking us, because the enemy is using that against us. Luckily, it appears as though we have lost both Relena and our enemy. At least temporarily. The last thing that I discovered sent me to join Yuy and Quatre as fast as I could. The plotting against the Alliance by OZ is supported by the Romafeller foundation. Kushrenada is up to his strange eyebrows in some very nasty power politics and he appears to be not only holding his own, but gaining significant ground. Something funny is going on in the OZ upper echelons and Kushrenada is just too dangerous. If he manages to slip the leash of the Alliance, our lives are all going to become much, much more difficult. Kushrenada not only sees the danger that the Gundams represent, he understands it. Brute strength and superior firepower will not allow us to prevail over a foe that can anticipate our every move. Zechs was scheduled to arrive at Maxwell's school this morning. Our enemy knew where Duo was. That argues for their informant being one of us. I can't believe it. I _won't_ believe it. When I returned to the others, Yuy went over the information and informed me that someone had intercepted one of Maxwell's letters to Chang. So it wasn't one of us. But then, who? *************** Duo: He talks! Who knew? Quatre: I did. Heero: I did. Wufei: Hmph. Duo: Why am I always the last to hear these things? Trowa: Because you are too busy talking to listen. Truth: Stop squabbling. Zechs is around here someplace. All: SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!